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Ten Questions About SEAL Training, Job, and Life

Stew Smith

Ten Questions About Navy SEAL Training, Job, and Life 

Here is a list of questions / answers from a young man in high school doing a project for class - along with a few very common follow up questions / comments to fully explain: 

1. What training does a career in the SEALs require?

See for the preparation details about the journey to get TO BUD/S but also read this as many people can get TO BUD/S but only 25% make it THROUGH BUD/S.

To and THrough BUD/S Article with video / additional links to learn

FIRST - Ace the PST - See article / videos for PST preparation guidelines. 

SECOND - Go see a recruiter - But read this - are you really ready? 

Crush the PST with your Mentor on Day 1  

Extra reading during your prep journey - So You Wanna Be a Frogman

Final Note:  This preparation process can take some time even if you were a three sport athlete in high school.  Do not be in a rush to join - join when you are ready and make yourself a Better Recruit (see Be a Better Recruit Video) because this is what you have to endure. 

Boot Camp, BUD/S Prep at Great Lakes IL - 15 total weeks
BUD/S Orientation at Coronado CA - 3 weeks
BUD/S Training - 21 weeks (1st Phase - Physical Conditioning + Hellweek, 2nd Phase- Diving, 3rd Phase - Land Warfare)

SQT - SEAL Qualification Training - 26 weeks - Coronado CA

2. What particular specialization of the SEALs were you in?  What additional special training did it require? I went to the SDV Team TWO after BUD/S graduation - then through six months of STT - SEAL Tactical Training with all the new guys on the East Coast Teams (aka today's SQT).  Then Advanced Operator Training (AOT) at SDV to learn how to do the SDV / Mar Ops Mission off of submarines. We launched mini-subs and zodiac boats from sub surface with a host submarine as our primary insert method for SEAL missions. This required LOTS of dive time. 

I then got stationed at the Naval Academy, was a Company Officer, ran the SEAL Prep program, and helped PE Department with remedial training programs (PFT, Swim Training). 

3. What natural abilities or interests are needed for a career in the SEALs? Be an open minded team player willing to learn something new each day and listen to people with more experience or less experience with better ways and ideas to tackle problems. A natural discipline to work hard every day whether is training workouts or long days and night of mission preparation. The discipline and dedication to stay fit is instrumental in being able to do the job. 

4. Is there good job availability for those who choose the SEALs?  No - The SEAL community is small.  More people try to be SEALs each year that make it. With a 25% graduation rate if 1000 people make it through the pre-selection process, only 250 will graduate. It is a tight community that has some of the toughest military training in front of the gates to the Teams. Are you prepared to be in the top 25% of your peers?

5. Would you rate the opportunities for advancement as poor, fair, good, or excellent?  I would say good to excellent.  Advancement is available for those who rise to the top in their year group, team, within their specialty, however it is competitive. You are competing with other SEALs throughout the Teams to advance in rank.

6. Could you list a particular advantage of being a SEAL?  A particular disadvantage?  You do a fun, challenging, and rewarding job in the SEAL Teams no matter what your role.  YOu are serving your country with an elite team of like minded warriors, however, you have to do this job far from home.  Being away from home is a tough challenge as you age with spouse and family to raise. However, this is not unlike any other military unit in our Department of Defense.  It is tough on military families the most. 

7. Do you have any special advice for someone interested in the SEALs (such as things to study)?  Be good student - not some average Joe who fails classes.  You need to be smart, able to think and communicate under duress. You need basic English skills of writing, public speaking.  You need math skills and understand concepts of algebra, geometry, and science of physics and chemistry.  Languages are also a plus as you will be overseas in other cultures of our allies as well as our enemies.

8. Are there any current problems faced by most SEALs?   There are people in the world who hate Americans and want to kill us - whether that is our fault or theirs it does not matter. SEALs, other Special Ops, and Ground forces have to deal them up close and personal. That is an issue the SEALs are willing to do if needed. When there is no war and more peace time training deployments, a warrior without a war can also be equally challenging to the community. Dealing with the stresses of the job in any tactical profession is a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.  Having access to stress relieving activities can be extremely helpful for the war-fighter and other tactical athletes as well (police, fire). 

9. Why did you choose to become a Navy SEAL as your profession? Being part of a close knit team of people that were willing to do anything physically possible to succeed was something that drew me to this community.  I cannot say I had a profession as a SEAL.  I only did 8 years as a SEAL so you could call my Navy career more of an apprenticeship than anything else. 

My 20+ profession occurred when I got out and became a coach and fitness writer.  I write fitness articles from  and other websites / magazines as well. But I also specialize in tactical fitness and prepare people to get TO and THROUGH any military, police, fire fighting program they seek to prepare for in order to serve their country or community.  Now, I coach locally for free with my Heroes of Tomorrow program, but also have programs online that work just as well if you cannot make it to my local training. In fact, I teach this method of Tactical Fitness Periodization and have been personally doing it myself for over 20 years.  It Works!  After 40, you may feel like your body is wrecked - especially as a former athlete turned tactical athlete.  This is where Tactical Fitness Over 40 comes in. There are New Rules for Tactical Fitness Over 40

10.  What do you recommend for someone to start training for this journey. I recommend being highly active as a kid and build up your natural abilities through play, sports, manual labor, and general toughness. Once you are done with sports, start your more specific preparation and work on your weaknesses when you realize you have a few or many even.  See the types of standards needed (ballpark recommendations) for a future in spec ops by getting TO and THROUGH the training...

Physical Assessment Tool for Those Acknowledging Weakness / Strengths


The Pipeline of Training Options: 


Navy SEAL Weight Training Book
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness Book  

It depends:  The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness is a classic and focuses on high rep calisthenics and running and swimming base.  You will build up your running over 12-18 weeks to 20 miles but very fast paced focus on both the 1.5 mile run for the PST and the 4 mile timed run for weekly run test at BUDS. If you are an athlete with a strong power / strength background in lifting and not running or swimming, Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you. IF you need some place to start Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you as well because a calisthenics base / running / swimming progression is a good place to build a foundation.  Though you will likely need to spend some time in the Navy SEAL Weight Training Book OR if Navy SEAL FItness is too challenging, go with Navy SEAL SWCC, EOD, Diver, PST Phase 1 Workout.  Phase 1 is a good starting point if Navy SEAL Fitness program is too tough. 

Navy SEAL Weight Training - This is part two (winter lifting phase) of my SEAL Prep program. If you have done the Navy SEAL Fitness (12 weeks to BUDS) program a few times and need a break, this is the next program that integrates lifting with the Navy SEAL Prep training. This is ideal for people who have come from an endurance athlete background.  Athletes like swimmers and runners will also require some strength training as you will be exposed to challenges under logs and boats during the first phase and many miles of rucking 50+ lbs of backpacks and gear in 2nd and 3rd phases of BUDS.  Do not skip lifting in your year of training prep.  However, if you are coming from a powerlifting / football background, supplementing a few lifts into your endurance / muscle stamina focus plan is something you may enjoy especially if training for a year or more during your prep phase. 

Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - Phase 1 is what I call a beginner guide, but it is still challenging.  It is geared toward those who are scoring minimally or failing their Navy PST test - 500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run.  It is easier than The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and a good prep course before attempting it. 



Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1 Beginner Weeks 1-9 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week

Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1

Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created.  It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.  

Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete

Tactical Fitness - At the core of this program is the Tactical Fitness Test which measures 12 standards for your physical capacity, including: cardiovascular conditioning, strength, muscle coordination, and stamina. Tactical fitness means having the skills needed to save lives and extend the limits of your endurance whether you are in the military, police, firefighting professions, or just an everyday hero. Also featured in the Tactical Fitness Test called the Dirty Dozen.

Tactical Strength - Tactical Strength is the lifting program used by Stew Smith and his Military, Police, Fire Fighter fitness program called the Heroes of Tomorrow. It is designed to build strength in the upper body, legs, and core to prepare you better for any load bearing activity (rucking, boat carry, log PT, etc). The program also does not neglect cardiovascular activity and will end workouts with rucking or swimming (or other non impact options (row, bike, elliptical) if needed. The cardio workouts will be quick and fast focusing more on speed and agility than long slow distance. We also use the Tactical Strength Test to test elements of speed, agility, and strength / power.

Tactical Mobility is a comprehensive fitness guide for greater mobility, flexibility, and performance—designed for the men and women serving in military, special ops, law enforcement, emergency services. Tactical Mobility is a perfect fit for any fitness program as a stand alone "Mobility day" supplemented into your regular routine and will help you reach the pain free level of fitness. Gaining flexibility and mobility is the goal of the program and it will help with performance and help reduce injuries.

The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas.  This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more. Warrior Workout 1   -  Warrior Workout 2  -   Warrior Workout 3. 

Personalized Training Programs
There are many more options as well as personalized training programs member's only program and the new :

Try Our Stew Smith Fitness Members Only Club - #1 Best Selling Tactical Fitness Programs

Questions?  Just email me at

At - List of Products and Services

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Stew Smith

Prep: Spec Ops Periodization



The Heroes of Tomorrow program was developed to help prepare you for ANY profession that requires a Physical Fitness Test and YOU pay nothing for the training!  Warning - it is rather advanced but we can scale it back a bit and teach running and swimming techniques and help you build up to your goal level of fitness.


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